Saturday, April 07, 2007

TV: Dinosaurs



While it's unusual for sitcoms to push the envelope (save for, perhaps, a "Very Special Episode"), the TV series "Dinosaurs" manages to artfully skirt the line between "funny" and "offensive." Produced by Michael Jacobs and Brian Henson (yes, that Brian Henson), this ambitious series is a typical nuclear family-style sitcom - except for the fact that the whole cast is made up of anthropomorphic talking dinosaurs. Primetime puppet shows are about as rare as free-market communists, so already we have an interesting concept.

Earl Sinclair, a typical Ralph Kramden-esque working stiff, leads his family through all the strange happenings of 65,000,000 BC Pangaea. Along the way are hilarious send-ups and satires of very human foibles - greedy developers clearcutting forests, politicians, materialistic teenagers. This kind of social commentary would be dynamite on its own, but "Dinosaurs" manages to weave this message-making with stories about the basically-good Sinclair family, which helps keep the series from being preachy.

The show was, above all other things, environmentally conscious, which is reflected nowhere more than the final episode. Earl, spraying defoliant at the prodding of his boss, inadvertently destroys all plant life on the planet and then causes a new Ice Age. This kills off all the dinosaurs. How's that for a sitcom series finale?

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